Soto’s piping hot 2019 Oscar predictions!

Rare indeed is the Oscar ceremony in which two nominees for Best Picture look likely to survive in the files of the collective memory. Joker continues to impress men and women of all ages who, understandably, confuse histrionics, spectacle, and doleful cello noise with Serious Art, while the more people watch Parasite the louder its claque.

So which film will Academy members coronate on Sunday night? Why, a reproduction of trench warfare politics by the director of Skyfall and American Beauty.

See below for more predictions.

Best Picture

Ford V Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

If we’re to believe the bleating of the Brutally Honest Oscar Voter whom the Hollywood Reporter interviews every year (to be fair, a different imbecile every year), the thought of rewarding Parasite, a film by furriners, repulses voters as much as Donald J. Trump’s appearance at a bridge game would. Give BHOV this: she and her colleagues came up with a respectable list of nominees, with Jojo Rabbit the only atrocity (the inchoate Joker at least has Joaquin Phoenix, whom I can take or leave). But the surprising box office of 1917, helmed by the undistinguished technician Sam Mendes, will sway teetering voters unwilling to reward Joker, much like Pete Buttigieg was more acceptable to Iowa caucus participants than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

WILL WIN: 1917

SHOULD WIN: Little Women, The Irishman, Parasite.


Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Todd Phillips – Joker
Sam Mendes – 1917
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho – Parasite

Exactly twenty years ago, Sam Mendes received a Best Director trophy for American Beauty, a picture which many of us took seriously at the time because Kevin Spacey played a heterosexual family man and we swooned when the camera caught in the reflection of Wes Bentley’s swimming pool eyes a plastic bag afloat in the wind. Overseeing the illusion of Roger Deakins’ roaming camera, Mendes hornswaggled enough voters into thinking 1917 was Paths of Glory. My minor objections to the way Bong Joon-ho handled the third act of Parasite matter little: I would clap hard if he won. Besides, Academy history in the last decade suggests a willingness to split Best Director and Picture winners. Don’t bet on it. Bong is still a furriner.

WILL WIN: Sam Mendes

SHOULD WIN:: Bong Joon-ho, Martin Scorsese

Actress in a Leading Role

Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Renée Zellwegger – Judy

It’s not fair to Renée Zellweger that she’ll likely win a second Oscar for a film no one will remember in a career with its share of fits and starts. We grumbled in 2003 when she won for the equally blank Cold Mountain too. Her singing as the title character in Judy deserves a less crumbly setting. To me, there’s no contest: Saoirse Ronan’s fiery, complex work in Little Women should’ve put her at the top of Oscar voters’ lists if they didn’t convince themselves, as they do ever year, that a biopic best represents the Future of Ci-ne-mah. As for Scarlet Johansson, for once her tentativeness — onscreen she often creates the impression of watching herself give a performance — works for a divorcee figuring out her life.

WILL WIN: Renée Zellwegger

SHOULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan or Scarlett Johansson

Actor in a Leading Role

Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes

Despite the strenuousness of performing without direction, Joaquin Phoenix in Joker confirmed his status as weirdest, most compelling mainstream American actor. I’d have preferred nominations for We Own the Night, Two Lovers, The Immigrant, and Florida Film Critics Circle’s 2018 winner You Were Never Really Here, and, hell, a win for 2012’s The Master. Gyrating as a Method ham who’s studied James Dean in Giant and his long dead older brother River in the last third of My Own Private Idaho has made him a cult hero. Beside these efforts, Antonio Banderas’ beautifully subtle, unexpectedly comic work in the rather sentimental Pain and Glory, and Adam Driver’s well-modulated fury in Marriage Story look like wallpaper.

WILL WIN: Joaquin Phoenix

SHOULD WIN: Antonio Banderas

Actress in a Supporting Role

Kathy Bates – Richard Jewell
Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Scarlett Johannson – Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh – Little Women
Margot Robbie – Bombshell

Quashing its populist instincts, Academy voters preferred Kathy Bates’ Kathy Bates-esque turn as Richard Jewell’s mom in Clint Eastwood’s film about the perfidy of the federal government to Jennifer Lopez’s canny use of star power in the actual box office hit Hustlers. After years of ignoring her, the Academy also rewarded Scarlett Johannson with her second of two acting nominations. Not once watching her struggle with an accent and the tone of the young sociopath’s mother in Jojo Rabbit last October did I think anyone would care. Again, Academy voters are strange people. She might pull an upset. But I’m betting Laura Dern’s newfound popularity and her precursor sweep will mean she strides as confidently to the stage to accept her award as J-Lo did on the rooftop in Hustlers.

WILL WIN: Laura Dern

SHOULD WIN: Florence Pugh, Laura Dern

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
Al Pacino – The Irishman
Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Kids who grew up during the Reagan yeas may remember Night of 100 Stars, an homage of spectacular vulgarity to has-beens, never-was-ers, and, in a concession to the Tiger Beat crowd, Matt Dillon. This category in 2020 looks like a Night of Slumming Stars. Every person has won or been nominated many times, including non-winner Brad Pitt, who has at last attained that level of Paul Newman buoyancy capable only when a star molds audience perceptions of his onscreen persona into his performances. I wouldn’t have minded another Pesci win in this category for. his. halting. turn. in The Irishman or Tom Hanks’ watchful, authentically weird imitation of Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

WILL WIN: Brad Pitt

SHOULD WIN: Brad Pitt, Joe Pesci, and Tom Hanks


Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit

The omission of 1917 should make its filmmakers pause; usually a correlation exists between Best Picture and a win in this category. This may be the category in which Parasite reminds audiences of what could’ve been. Don’t discount Joker or Ford v Ferrari, though.

WILL WIN: Parasite

SHOULD WIN: Parasite

Original Screenplay

Knives Out
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A two-time winner in this category, Quentin Tarantino may win again, but I’m thinking Parasite will earn its most prominent win here if Marriage Story proves too strong a mirror, reflecting the legal bills of Hollywood’s elite.

WILL WIN: Parasite

SHOULD WIN: Parasite

Adapted Screenplay

The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
The Two Popes

I’ve had to check myself into a Swiss sanitarium after expending a couple thousand words on the perfidy of Jojo Rabbit, but let’s face facts: years of denouncing Oscar voters for abjuring comedy, here they go nominating one in several categories. A generation ago, let’s stop and remember, their idea of funny was Life is Beautiful, so screenwriter Taika Waititi’s chances strike me as pretty good in this category. On the other hand these same reprobates occasionally succumb to guilt; a win for writer-director Greta Gerwig for her adventurous adaptation of Little Women may compensate for a shut-out in the major categories.

WILL WIN: Jojo Rabbit

SHOULD WIN: Little Women, The Irishman


The Irishman
The Lighthouse
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It’s all I’ve heard about in the last month. “1917 was awesome. That camera!” Viewers who never noticed cinematography acted as if they’d watched Citizen Kane for the first time. There was a time when the Academy confused the framing of pretty pictures with subtle cinematography; I almost miss those times.

WILL WIN: 1917

SHOULD WIN: The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Lighthouse

Original Song

Toy Story 4
Frozen 2

Oscar voter want to see Elton John and Bernie Taupin onstage for some reason receiving an award for their most prominent tune in years.

WILL WIN: Rocketman


Original Score

Little Women
Marriage Story
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will Academy voters reward Thomas Newman after fourteen nominations or Hildur Gudnadottir for her enough-already cello ministrations in Joker? As I wrote about the cinematography predictions, except flash over subtlety.

WILL WIN: 1917

SHOULD WIN: Little Women

Documentary Feature

American Factory
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama

For once I’d be perfectly delighted if the one-of-a-kind-for-Academy-voters Honeyland or the Obama-produced American Factory take it, but who knows? A toss-up category. I’ll go bold.

WILL WIN: Honeyland

SHOULD WIN: Honeyland, American Factory

3 thoughts on “Soto’s piping hot 2019 Oscar predictions!

  1. Last Wednesday I saw back to back LW and Parasite, again.
    Going out of the Mall I was thinking: Sheez, only her second feature but Greta is already a better dialogue scripter than Bong, who seems to me, at least in Parasite, like a junior scripter making a seminar and going bananas writing a Statement over class issues and Capitalism. It’s not excuse saying Mrs Park is “simple” by not saying she’s an outright idiot. That’s lazy screenwriting. Where was the the sophisticated Bong of “Memories Murder”?
    Greta knows half the things Bong understands about mise-en-scene.
    But Little Woman is still the better picture.

    Sue me.

    I want Scorsese or Tarantino winning everything that has been negated to them thus far. Meaning, I won’t be happy to see it.

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